Building A Culture Of Compliance In Your Organization

When it comes to staying on top of compliance, nothing provokes the collective “eye roll” from teams like compliance training and testing. We get it, compliance best practices are boring and time consuming. If given the opportunity to watch paint dry or sit through compliance training and testing, many people would happily pick the former. We, at, love talking about all things compliance. Not just because it’s our job to, but because we wholeheartedly believe that organizations with a strong culture of compliance are primed to grow and succeed. When teams live and breathe compliance, they communicate better, they are more likely to hold each other accountable, and believe it or not, they become more efficient. So, let’s talk about how you can strengthen the culture of compliance for your team and organization.

Do these three things to build a strong culture of compliance for your organization:

1. Build the foundation for a culture of compliance at the top.

Oftentimes when organizational leaders get focused on compliance, they immediately think of the people on the team that are impacted the most. They can be contractors, hourly employees, mid-level managers, even senior level managers… for some reason this is where leadership stops and this is a big mistake. Don’t get us wrong, being laser focused on the people that need to demonstrate compliance best practices daily is huge, and it works (at least for a short while). You may have 3-4 months of solid compliance but then things begin to taper off and there is less and less consistency. Why does this always happen? Because a culture of compliance starts at the top and works its way down. As you prepare to focus your team’s efforts on strengthening the culture of compliance, organization leadership should first establish and practice habits of compliance until it becomes almost second nature. We all know how tedious it can be too consistently remain in compliance over the course of years, so first make it a non-negotiable priority at the top, demonstrate your commitment, hold ourselves accountable, lead by example. If you can take ownership of the compliance culture, it will spread throughout the entire organization.

2. Find the compliance rock stars on your team, then empower them

Now that you and your leadership team have consistently made compliance a priority, it’s time to educate the masses. There are many options available to find compliance training partners, in fact Gauge can help you with that here. Ensure that you find a program that works best for the established culture of your team, pay attention to personalities, teaching methods, assessment methods, communication styles, etc. Roll out a compliance education program with the same commitment you and your leadership team had. As you go through this process (it can take months), you will have team members that begin to stand out. You will notice specific people paying closer attention in training, or people with higher assessment scores, you will notice some people implementing compliance best practices when they think no one is paying attention, or you might notice that a few team members help hold others accountable. These are your compliance rock stars, do not let them go unnoticed or unrecognized. Reward your rock stars in the way they value most. For some it’s as simple as a note thanking them for their commitment, others might like public recognition. Do even better by creating compliance-based titles with added responsibility to help ensure the compliance culture remains strong. Do this at every level of your organization and you will be surprised how many people rise to the occasion for professional development and higher visibility. Bring these people into meetings, and show them how important they are when they make compliance a top priority. We promise, others will follow along.

3. If you can’t make it fun, make it rewarding

Wouldn’t it be great if compliance were fun for everyone? On that same note, it would be great if cleaning the dusty area behind your toilet were fun, but alas some things are just going to be boring and unfun. This is likely the case when it comes to your compliance priorities, but just because it isn’t fun, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be a rewarding and positive experience. Most people first think of rewarding their team with something like company swag, or gift cards, or even extra paid time off. These options should absolutely work with your team as well, but as a leader you should be paying attention to what drives individual team members. What do they as individuals find rewarding? Sure enough you have team members who are focused on their personal development and growth. They are always challenging themselves to be better, they read smart books, listen to inspiring podcasts, they make their health and well-being a priority… try framing compliance adherence as a practice in self-discipline. On the other side of that coin, you also have team members who are really just focused on doing their job from 9:00am to 5:00pm and then like to get back to their personal lives. We love these types of employees, they come in, do a good job, don’t make a big fuss about anything and then go about their lives. As wonderful as they are, it can be more challenging to engage with them if they are slipping on the compliance front. If this happens, it’s easy to try motivating them through documented correction or fear, and yes this can work but it can also back-fire and damage the overall culture. Instead, make it a priority to understand them better and learn what they need to take ownership of compliance in their day-to-day work. Have friendly conversations, start doing professional development meetings, find out what drives them and tie it to compliance culture. 

If we could give you the proverbial “magic wand” to wave over your team and instantly create a culture of compliance, we would (at a steep price too), but there is no magic wand to wave. However, there is Gauge which is somewhat magical (at least to us) where you can find the compliance training and testing that is the best fit for your team. Just remember, before you roll out an organizational wide compliance program, start at the top.